Mukhtar Ablyazov is accused of running one of the biggest frauds in history
A legal battle between one of Kazakhstan's biggest banks and its former chairman has intensified after the High Court ordered the arrest of the ex-chairman's brother-in-law for breaching an injunction.
BTA Bank has accused Mukhtar Ablyazov of running one of the biggest frauds in history and is pursuing seven claims against him worth more than £2.4 billion. Victims of the alleged fraud, who are backing the case in London, include Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC.
The bank raised the stakes in the dispute last week by lodging an application to have Mr Ablyazov sent to prison for allegedly committing "numerous" breaches of a court order freezing his assets. It claims that he has failed to disclose all of his holdings, including those in more than 600 offshore companies allegedly under his control.
Mr Ablyazov said that the application was "baseless" and that he would contest it "vigorously". It was after the application was filed last week that Mr Ablyazov's brother-in-law Syrym Shalabayev — who is also named as a defendant in some of the proceedings — was found to be in contempt of court for breaching an injunction. He faces a custodial sentence.
Mr Justice Briggs, sitting in the High Court, said that Mr Shalabayev had failed to comply with a related order issued in November requiring him to provide the court with a list of his assets worth more than £10,000 and to hand over documents to BTA's lawyers. He is due to be sentenced on June 20. Mr Shalabayev can argue against the contempt finding or ask for his release or discharge, the judge said. Mr Shalabayev could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A spokesman for BTA claimed that it had uncovered "significant" evidence linking Mr Shalabayev to the alleged frauds carried out by Mr Ablyazov.
BTA was nationalised in 2009 with debts of more than $12 billion. Mr Ablyazov fled to London seeking asylum. He said that he was forced out of Kazakhstan for political reasons.